When you’re tired or rushed, it’s easy to make a typographical or grammatical mistake. And if it’s occasional, your readers will probably attribute it to human error. But when you make the same mistake throughout a piece of a content, the ‘mistake’ becomes something else.
It becomes apparent you haven’t used a spell checker.
It becomes apparent you don’t understand a basic rule of grammar.
It becomes apparent you don’t have a process in place for reviewing and approving your content before it is published.
And, because language is constantly evolving, it might even signal your age.
It doesn’t help that American English and British English sometimes disagree.
Here’s something the US and UK don’t disagree on: when writing acronyms you don’t need (no longer need) to insert a full stop in between each letter that represents a word.
an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word
- Chief Executive Officer is abbreviated as CEO, not C.E.O.
- Key Performance Indicator is abbreviated as KPI, not K.P.I.
Furthermore, unless you’re seeking to show possession when pluralising an acronym, you don’t need an apostrophe either.
- Chief Executive Officers becomes CEOs, not CEO’s.
- Key Performance Indicators becomes KPIs, not KPI’s.
I see this mistake being made all the time – typically by Baby Boomers who were taught to use periods to separate the letters in an abbreviation (for example, C.E.O.). At that time, to avoid confusion, it was apparently also acceptable to include an apostrophe before the ‘s’ when pluralising an acronym.
Times have changed and so should the Baby Boomers.
Note: I learned to type before computers. Back then, it was standard to include two spaces after a full stop. I forced myself to break that habit when I discovered it was age-revealing (Nothing says over 40 like two spaces after a period!).
Here’s a tip: if you’re unsure, rephrase your sentence or write the acronym in full and then decide whether it needs an apostrophe.
Remember, the apostrophe broadly has only three purposes:
1. To contract (does not becomes doesn’t; will not becomes won’t)
2. To show possession (the CEO’s presentation; the team’s KPIs)
3. To show time (one hour’s work; ten years’ experience).
To be effective, your content must be relevant and valuable to your target audience. If your content is riddled with punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors, your audience will not only turn away, they’ll probably not turn back.